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Translation and the meaning of everything

Translation and the meaning of everything Many, many moons ago, somebody once told me: "Broken English is the language of the world". Yet while English may appear to be taking over the world, translation is still highly relevant, necessary, and, in fact, is getting more important. (Good thing for us!)

Is That A Fish In Your Ear, written by David Bellos, looks at the history of translation. And in pursuit of the book's underlying attack on nomenclaturism, the author takes time to debunk persistent bits of linguistic folklore.

For instance, it is not true that the Eskimos have a hundred words for different kinds of snow but no word that simply means "snow". (But even if it were true, so what? Try walking into a Starbucks and just order a "coffee".)

Importantly, Mr. Bellos' book is not a technical how-to manual. Instead, it provides a humorous, speedy, and unabashedly positive look at translation.

While there are few, very things that translation cannot do (for example, it can't help us communicate with animals), Mr. Bellos cites lots of historical accomplishments, made possible by translation. In fact, he says "It is translation, more than speech itself, which provides incontrovertible evidence of the human capacity to think and communicate thought."

So take that fish out of your ear and put Mr. Bellos' words in them instead!


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